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The Campo Exercise

The Campo Exercise is designed to get you out into the city, starting to observe and get to know one of the greatest historical documents we have: Venice itself. As well as thinking like historians, you need to draw on the skills of the anthropologist, the sociologist, the architectural and art historian... In addition to getting to know a part of the city, it will introduce you to various themes of the module and a key aspect of Venetian culture, past and present: public space.

1. Once you are assigned your Campo you need to find it and spend at least an hour there, sometime during the first week.

2. Use the list of keywords and questions below as a starting point. Walk around and look, then sit down and observe, taking notes on your impressions. If possible, go back more than once, at different times of day, and see how it changes. Look for unusual details, things you might not notice if you were just passing through quickly. You could take photographs which you could include in your Exercise.

3. Look at at least 2-3 of the readings below as inspiration for how to do urban history and think about particular urban spaces.

4. Afterwards, distill your notes into a 1500-word essay focusing on ONE of the keywords below in relation to your observation of the Campo - whatever you found most interesting and thought-provoking. You essentially need to show how, as a historian, you can use your observation of the Campo as evidence to illuminate an aspect of Venice's past.

5. This is an assessment that needs to be submitted via Tabula. It needs proper footnotes and references following the MHRA style guide.


Smells | Sounds | Commercial activity | Consumption | Religion | Nature | Information | Power | Government | Communication | Ages/Generations | Gender | Wealth | Origins | Ethnicity | Family | History | Memory | Writing | Passing through | Street/Campo Names | Plaques | Statues | Public services | Belonging | Exclusion | Interaction | Languages | Water | Stone | Transport | Surveillance | Public | Private | Protest | Sociability | Observation | Ritual | Community | Leisure | Work | Crime | Mobility | Migration | Hospitality


  • What are the most important pieces of architecture on the Campo?
  • Which of these might have been there in the Renaissance?
  • Which ones do you think are still used for the same purpose?
  • What kinds of activities take place in the Campo?
  • What kinds of people use the Campo?
  • How is information communicated in the Campo and what kind? (Look at signs, posters, plaques, graffitti...)
  • What kinds of sounds to do you hear? Smells?
  • How does the Campo change at particular times of day or days of the week?
  • Does it change across the hour you spend there?


  • Campo Santo Stefano
  • Campo Santa Maria Formosa
  • Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio
  • Campo Santa Margherita
  • Campo del Ghetto
  • Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo
  • Campo San Giovanni in Bragora
  • Campo San Polo
  • Campo dei Frari
  • Campo San Luca
  • Campo San Barnaba
  • Campo San Bartolo (San Bartolomio)
Suggested Readings:

Campo SS. Giovanni e Paolo